Water-Based Distance Learning Activities

With the increase amount of school, workplace, library, and community space closures, you might be looking for some ideas to pass the time with your children. Here are some water-based/ STEM activities to pass the time while learning about water.

  •  Go on a water scavenger hunt! Using the image below, make a checklist or take photos of the following items to keep track of what you find!

water scavenger hunt

  • Sidewalk water painting. Sidewalk painting can happen with paint brushes and water, too! Watch in fascination as your designs disappear slowly because of evaporation. This is a great opportunity to begin teaching younger children about the wonders of the water cycle. This activity is best done on a sunny day.
  • Is it raining outside? Take your child on a rainy day walk! Follow the water from the gutters to see where it ends up. What did you find along the way?
  • Teach your child about the water cycle using their bodies through water cycle yoga. Visit this link if you need some inspiration for how to facilitate it!

water cycle yoga

(Image Courtesy of Durham Hub Farm)

  • Make your own mini water cycle using a to-go or old food container with a clear top. Fill the container with rocks, grass, plants, and other found items, mist with a bit of water, set in the sun, and see what happens!
  • Does your child like to color and read? Learn about stormwater runoff with the Stormwater Sleuth and Running Rain activity book put together by University of Nebraska- Extension. This activity book is geared towards 4th-8th grade students.

 

The Soak-Spread-Slow Stormwater Song

If you’re at home in some rainy weather, take a listen to CWEP’s new song to learn about how we can help improve the stormwater!

The bolded words are terms that you can learn more about in future blog posts and social media posts- stay tuned!

What motions can you make up to go along with the lyrics? Feel free to post in the comments on the left.

Stormwater Song Lyrics

Where does the water go

When it falls from the clouds to down below

All that rain eventually

Flows from here into the sea

and we can play a part

to help the rain depart

Acting like a sponge, to soak it up, to soak it up

Stretching out our arms to spread it out, to
spread it out

Moving like a snail to slow it down, to slow it down

These are things we do to help improve

The stormwater

Where does the water flow

When it has nowhere else to go?

All that rain from the roof and street

Goes down the storm drain and to the creek

And we can play a part

To help the rain depart

Because when it rains it pours

but the trees and grass can soak it up

rain barrels for sure

can help collect and spread it out

And if there’s even more

rain gardens can slow it down

These are things we do to help improve

the stormwater

Be Good to the Critters: Don’t Litter!

February flowers bring March showers, and March showers sweep litter into our streams. This means spring is the perfect season to get involved in litter prevention, awareness and education in your community. Here are 5 ways you can get involved:

Volunteer at a litter clean up. Clean Jordan Lake, Keep Durham Beautiful, and Wake County Waste and Recycling are a few examples of organizations who host spring clean ups in the Triangle. 

Host your own creek clean up. Not sure if your community has a clean up? Create your own! Stream Watch is a state-wide community science initiative where groups plan two creek clean ups/water quality monitoring events per year. Contact our stormwater education specialist at cwep@tjcog.org for help picking a safe site, learning how to use the online surveys, and assistance with hosting your first event.

Learn about what happens to your waste. Did you know that Durham and Orange Counties truck their trash over 90 miles away to Montgomery County? Find out what happens to waste in your community by contacting your local government and planning a field trip to your landfill or recycling facility, or check out their website to see if there’s a video.

Promote litter prevention in schools. In Baltimore Maryland, a school-wide ban on styrofoam started by 2 high school students eventually led to a state-wide ban. Organizations like Don’t Waste Durham encourage K-12 education on litter prevention through action projects and volunteering. 

Educate yourself so that you can educate others. Chatham County Solid Waste and Recycling just rolled out a new “Don’t Waste It” curriculum for formal and non-formal K-12 educators. Head over to the department page to find out about upcoming workshops or request one near you. 

Do you have other ideas about how to prevent waste in your community? We would love to hear from you! Drop a comment in the box below or contact CWEP for more information.IMG-7442CWEP member Hannah helping out at a Clean Jordan Lake cleanup this past fall.

Learning More from Annual Reports

New to CWEP? Looking for information for your stormwater permit reporting? Look no further! Released annually in late August, CWEP’s Annual Reports summarize and describe the prior fiscal year’s stormwater education and outreach accomplishments.

Links to recent Annual Reports are always available at the top of the “About Us” page, starting with the most recent FY19 report. Stay tuned for the next one in August 2020, and in the meantime, we hope to see you at our Quarterly Meetings!

Stream Stewardship Opportunity: Join NC Stream Watch!

Are you looking for a local stewardship opportunity? Do you enjoy picking up trash or water quality monitoring? If so, you should join NC Stream Watch! 

NC Stream Watch is a state-wide community science engagement program created by North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ). NC Stream Watch showcases the wide diversity of watersheds across the Mountains, Piedmont and Coastal Plains regions of the state and gives folks an opportunity to engage with their local waterways. Any interested group can participate in Stream Watch, including scout troops, church volunteers, key clubs, or school programs. The minimum requirements are to do two trash cleanups per year and take a photo and GPS location of your stream site. 

This spring, CWEP is launching an NC Stream Watch Train-the Trainer series. Community groups in member local governments can contact CWEP to be trained as a Stream Watch leader and we will join you for your first event. CWEP will train leaders how to fill out the online monitoring surveys and choose a safe site. We will also provide materials such as macroinvertebrate sampling equipment and chemical water quality testing kits to enhance the environmental education opportunities at the first event. 

Please contact the CWEP AmeriCorps member at cwep@tjcog.org if you are interested in a training and visit the NC DEQ Stream Watch site for more information about the program.

NC Stream Watch Flyer

 

Capture It! Enter Raleigh’s Annual Stormwater Arts Contest

Image result for capture it raleigh stormwater arts contest

Are you or someone you know a creative Raleigh student? Help us spread the word about the City of Raleigh’s annual stormwater arts contest! By entering this contest, students explore the powerful intersections of art, messaging, stormwater education, and community engagement. Winners receive a $500 prize and recognition as a 2020 Raleigh Environmental Award Winner. 

Who: 8th-12th grade students in Raleigh area schools

What: a video or artwork entry showing how to reduce stormwater pollution and protect local waterways. Artwork should be designed to fit on a storm drain or rain barrel.

When: submissions are open until February 3rd, 2020.

How: Register here on the City of Raleigh site. This page also has more details about submission requirements.

Need some inspiration? Click here to watch the video entry winner from last year’s contest.

Image result for storm drain artwork Image result for rain barrel art

Image result for storm drain artwork

Above are some examples of creative stormwater messaging painted on storm drains and rain barrels. If you want to make your own storm drain art design, be sure that it fits within the required dimensions (23.5-inch diameter round or 62.5-inch x 14.5-inch rectangular)

Image 1: City of Raleigh website

Image 3: RVA H20 (Richmond, VA) website

Image 4: WLWT5 News (Cincinatti, OH) website

Image 5: City of Lubbock, TX website

 

Traveling Back in time on the Neuse River

CWEP AmeriCorps member Hannah has been hard at work developing stormwater/ watershed curriculum geared towards high school students for direct education visits in member communities. Based on an Environmental Justice timeline activity she did at the National Environmental Justice Conference in Washington D.C., Hannah developed a “History of the Neuse River” timeline. During this interactive lesson, students work in small groups to match photos with their corresponding event and attempt to put the events in order. This activity is meant to familiarize students with their local watershed and give context for the specific water quality issues in their river basin. The lesson is designed to be general enough that students throughout the Neuse River Basin can use it. Hannah is in the process of creating a similar timeline for the Cape Fear River Basin in addition to creating lesson continuations that teachers can use in the classroom.

Accompanied by members, Hannah will be piloting this lesson at South Granville, East Wake, and Holly Springs High School the first week of December.

To see an interactive electronic version of the timeline, please visit the following link:

History of the Neuse: Full Timeline

Below is the summarized version of the timeline, for quick reference.

neuse river timeline updated 11.26 photo

Waste-Less with Green to Go

Anyone who has visited or lives in Durham knows that it’s a foodie town. From food trucks, to fried chicken, to vegan soul, Durham is the land-of-plenty when it comes to creative food fusions. It’s also an environmentally conscious place to live. Local grassroots community group Don’t Waste Durham is at the forefront of these movements, by keeping waste out of the system and “creating solutions that prevent trash”.

Along with delicious savory bites, the food industry also produces a lot of single-use product waste. According to the U.S. EPA, single-use food packaging makes up nearly 30% of annual solid waste. Straws, plastic utensils, Styrofoam cups/containers, and even “eco-friendly” single-use items like paper to-go boxes are all potential sources of litter that can enter our waterways through stormwater runoff.

single use plastic

What if we could reduce this threat to our watersheds by eliminating single use items in restaurants? Green To Go (an initiative of Don’t Waste Durham) is “taking the trash out of takeout” through their service which provides consumers and local restaurants with reusable to-go containers.  Customers pay an annual subscription fee ($25), download an app, go out to eat/ order take-out from a participating restaurant, and then return their container to a drop-off location. The containers are then washed and returned to restaurants to begin the process again. Using “smart logistics, behavior science, and technology”, Green to Go is attempting to not only eliminate single-use packaging, but build resilient circular economies in the process.

Image result for don't waste durham logoImage result for green to go durham

This past spring, CWEP launched a one-click giveaway campaign sponsored by several community partners, including Green to Go. Green to Go offered an annual subscription for their reusable container service to the giveaway winner. Partnerships like this help CWEP reach a broader audience who might not otherwise know about our work in the  region, while also promoting local businesses who are working towards more resilient communities. We look forward to featuring more local businesses like Green to Go in future CWEP giveaways, and expanding the reach to include local businesses from other member communities as well.

Litter

To Learn more about the Green To Go Initiative, or to sign up, please visit these links:

Don’t Waste Durham Webpage

Green to Go Webpage

Sources:

SOLVE MIT Challenge: Green to Go

Taking the Trash out of Takeout article

Don’t Waste Durham

Green to Go 

Image 1: Green Peace USA

Image 2/3: Green to Go and Don’t Waste Durham webpages

Image 4: CWEP image

Stormwater Management in Extreme Events

Dr. Bill Hunt’s talk at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh on August 9th focused on the historic flooding hurricanes NC has seen in recent years, and what that means for stormwater management. We all remember when 6 feet of water stood on I-40, making Wilmington was an island and closing 3200 roads statewide. Our highways were (in theory) designed for the 1/500 year storm event, but Florence was a 1/2000 year event in Wilmington.

An NCDOT staff member in the audience shared that they worked with NC Division of Emergency Management and the Navy (yes, the Navy) to ensure that Wilmington had adequate supplies. Looking forward, DOT is working with the National Weather Service and others to stress-test our highway system, as well as learning from Louisiana’s experience during Hurricane Katrina to study bridge span vulnerability (many bridges went out during Katrina due to wave action.)

So what does this mean for stormwater management using green infrastructure? Stormwater managers know that green infrastructure has been designed to effectively treat moderate-sized rain events. How can stormwater BMPs / SCMs safely convey or pass larger storms, while still meeting their treatment goals? Dr. Hunt said that we will probably need to design our SCMs to be a bit bigger and made out of more durable materials. Thinking more broadly about green infrastructure, he also emphasized the need for preserving lands that routinely floods as public amenities. Designing parks, ballfields, or urban agriculture areas that can survive being submerged and somewhat battered in storms will allow us to “live with water” better.

Dr. Hunt and others in the audience also emphasized the importance of breaking down our institutional and subject matter silos. Stormwater, transportation, and emergency managers–and developers–can learn from one another about how best to manage risk and maintain the resilience of the systems where we work, play and live.

How are you designing your SCMs and planning land use for extreme events? How are your partnerships with other managers evolving? Leave a comment below about what’s helping you solve these challenges we all face.

And That’s a Wrap! FY 2019 Highlights

Kids cleaning Enviroscape

We finished up our Outreach and Education for the Fiscal Year 2019- and what a year it has been!! We interacted with over 3,000 individuals in CWEP regions over the course of the previous ten months on all things stormwater. A total of 146 hours were spent administering, leading, or aiding in programs across the state! The age range of our audiences ranged from Pre-K-Adult for all events and programs. In addition, we reached our main goal of aiding in or leading a program for all 37 of our member communities throughout the year- meeting both Public Participation & Involvement and Public Outreach & Education NPDES MS4 Minimum Measures. While we reached all 37 communities, a total of 71 programs, events, and meetings took place with about 1-3 visits/member.

Focused educational themes included the water cycle, macroinvertebrates, litter/trash, pet waste, lawn waste, fertilizer/pesticides, household waste, and vehicle pollutants. Check out our program and service menu guide here to learn more about the services we can provide you!

Programs and events ranged from libraries, schools, farmer’s markets, festivals, fairs, workshops, summer camps, Boys and Girls Clubs, scout groups, Parks & Rec programs, YMCA’s, training high schools, and more! CWEP also had several meetings with our member representatives about future events and how CWEP can aid their communities going forward.

We can’t wait to see what 2019-2020 has in store for us! Check out some images from the fun we had this past year here! Also, keep checking back in for our Annual Report FY19 which will be published on our Public SharePoint archive site in the near future. Enjoy the rest of your summer and we will see you soon this fall!